Are you one of those responsible people who does their homework before bringing a cool pet home like a leopard gecko? If yes, you know that it’s important to provide your new pet with the right environment it needs to live a happy and healthy life.
Setting up a perfect leopard gecko habitat is more complicated than just putting a few rocks and a light bulb in a tank. The leopard gecko has very specific needs that must be met to ensure its health and survival.
Leopard gecko hides are dedicated places where your lizard can feel safe and comfortable. These hides are where the gecko can rest, sleep, and hide from other pets and people. Reptiles like leopard geckos can easily become stressed living under human care and that stress can create both health and behavioral problems.
A stressed leopard gecko may not eat well or be able to reproduce. Before we get into telling you how to make a moist hide for a leopard gecko, it’s important to first understand why it’s required in the first place.
Why Is a Moist Hide Necessary?
Native to hot and dry places like Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, India, and other Asian countries, leopard geckos thrive in deserts. While it’s true that they live in hot and dry environments, it doesn’t mean that they don’t require humidity.
The desert environments where leopard geckos live are made up of more than hot dry sand. There are also many stones and rocks in these environments to give the leopard gecko cooler and darker places to hide.
In the leopard gecko’s natural environment within the cracks and crevices of rocks and stones, the humidity level ranges from 70-80% during the summer months and 60-70% during the winter. Leopard geckos need moist holes to both hide in and thrive.
Just like we humans need water to regulate our body temperature, a leopard gecko needs a moist environment to regulate its body temperature. The optimal temperature in a leopard gecko moist hole is between 83 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
A leopard gecko kept as a pet needs a moist hide to shed properly and to lay its eggs. When your leopard gecko needs to shed its skin, it will go to the moist hide because the humidity will help soften the skin for easy shedding.
Making a Moist Hide
You can make your own leopard gecko moist hide using a common household object like a small box, plastic container, or a planter pot. A good object to use as a moist hide is a coconut shell that’s been hollowed out. A coconut shell is a natural object that can be more appealing to your gecko, offering it a safe place to hide, play, and grow. Whatever object you choose to use for the hide, just be sure it’s large enough for your lizard to comfortably move around inside.
Once you’ve selected the object to use for your moist hide, cut an opening in it so your leopard gecko has easy access to it. To ensure that your gecko doesn’t get injured, don’t leave any sharp edges on any part of the moist hide and especially the entrance/exit.
The moist hide should be large enough for your lizard to move around inside with ease. If you have more than one leopard gecko, you will need to make a larger hole in the hide. The general rule of thumb is to make a moist hide two to three times the size of the reptile.
Choosing the Right Substrate
Your leopard gecko will spend a lot of time in its moist hide. That’s why it’s essential to choose a proper substrate. While many novice leopard gecko owners use damp paper towels as substrate, this is not the best choice. A leopard gecko will not lay eggs on the damp towels, increasing the risk of egg binding.
A good substrate to use inside a moist hide is sphagnum moss. Since you’ll have to mist the moss with water, it can develop mold if kept too wet. Don’t over-soak the moss, keep track of your misting, and change the substrate if you notice it’s becoming moldy.
Placement of the Moist Hide
It’s important to place the moist hide on the cool side of the tank away from the heat. This way, heat cannot cause fast evaporation of the moisture inside the hide that can lower the humidity levels.
Cleaning the Hide
Now that you know how important a moist hide is for a leopard gecko, it’s vital that you keep the moist hide clean. A good rule of thumb is to clean the hide every time you clean the tank. Use warm soapy water to do the cleaning and be sure to rinse the hide well when done scrubbing away the dirt and grime.
When making a moist hide for your leopard gecko, focus on creating a comfortable habitat that your gecko can get in and out of easily. Be sure there’s enough room inside for your reptile to move around and play and that you keep the substrate inside the hide moist. Don’t forget to clean the hide when you clean the rest of the tank!
Featured Image Credit: TUFADUM, Shutterstock